Winter foraging

Winter foraging

Co-author of The Self Sufficientish Bible, Andy Hamilton, offers his advice on finding wild food in winter…


Ok so this is not the sort of time of year you want to get out of the house and look for food. The winds are blustery, the ground is frozen solid and you can be hit by ice cold rain. It’s no surprise then that plants feel the same and keep their heads below ground.

However, there are plants around and you are still able to have a bit of feed from the wild. Turn to page 229 of my book, The Selfsufficientish Bible and you will see a chart that covers the whole year – in fact it is worth noting that the foragers calendar spreads throughout the year and not just in the autumn months as many assume. So look out for mushrooms such as, Ceps’s, Wood Blewits and Jew’s ear over the next two months. Indeed, it was during a very cold snap a few years ago that I came across my biggest haul of mushrooms. I found around 3 or 4 kilo’s of oyster mushrooms. Of course that is far too much to eat and I had to dry them.

To dry mushrooms I tend to suspend a cooling rack above one of my radiators and just leave them there until totally dry. They can also be put in the oven on a low heat. If I am using this method I tend to put them on a clean baking tray and throw them in after I have just used the oven. Otherwise you are just throwing money away!

It’s not just mushrooms that you can still find during these cold months. Yarrow grows all year round and can be used as a very refreshing tea that will also help fend off a cold. For those living near the sea the delights of sea beat can be found. As with normal spinach the young leaves can be used in a salad and the older leaves are best cooked.

For a very easy beet spinach recipe.

This really is a lazy meal recipe and is very tasty, but then fried food with garlic and cheese tends to be!

Ingredients – for the batter

  • 500 ml of milk/beer/or Sour milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 250g Flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the filling
  • 500g Sea beet
  • One large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 100g of a good hard cheese

Pancake Method

  1. Sieve the flour into a bowl
  2. Add the egg, milk (or beer) and seasoning
  3. mix until there are no lumps in the batter
  4. Leave to stand for half and hour or so in the fridge
  5. Fry both sides and add the filling (see below)

Method – Filling

  1. Finely chop the onions and lightly fry, adding the garlic as they onions begin to soften.
  2. Wash and chop the sea beet and add to the onions.
  3. When the sea beet has reduced, grate the cheese and add to the pancakes.

Of course if you would rather sit with a nice cup of yarrow tea and read about wild food over these colder months you could ask Father Christmas for a copy of the Selfsufficientish Bible, priced at £20 and available from all good bookshops.

Andy conducts wild food forages in Bristol. Get a 10% discount by quoting ‘flavour’ in the subject line when contacting Andy@selfsufficientish.com

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